Or, as Adam Graham would’ve titled this, “The Realm Makers After Action Report.”
Guest Blogger: Andrea Graham
This year, Adam Graham determined to send me to Realm Makers, to keep his promise that it was my turn next time, so he could go next year. After being persuaded he had just enough money on our tight budget squirreled away, I let myself get excited. Made my plans, carefully prepared everything I thought I’d need at the conference, packed a big suitcase with my laptop, professional clothing, night clothing, exercise clothing, my costume party gear, and multiple folders worth of conference materials, including one for taking notes and three to give to perspective publishers for the Argevane Saga novels. For my carry-on, I selected my backpack and stuffed it with one emergency change of clothes, healthy munchies, a sleep mask, ear plugs, neck pillow, sarong to be used as a blanket, cell phone, kindle fire tablet, MP3 player, the outlet chargers for the phone and the tablet, business cards, one small folder with my most vital travel documents in it, twenty dollars, and a few other small items dumped in the bag straight out of my purse, which I packed in the big suitcase.
God decided to reduce me down to only my carry-on.
Now, in fairness to the Lord, I got into Philadelphia on an overnight flight, booked through one airline and carried by two different ones, while the Democratic convention was also in town and the airport staff were apparently overwhelmed and plain didn’t care enough to keep track of my bag. I got several conflicting reports and finally gathered they really didn’t know where it was at all. Most likely, my checked suitcase came in no later than six hours after I did, and they couldn’t be bothered to identify it and deliver it to me in a timely manner like they promised. The Lord probably didn’t directly inflict this on me, he simply used it for his glory.
God, well aware this was coming, had checked my spirit about it–for one, it is not normal for me to have even one emergency change of clothes in my carry-on. What is interesting is the thoughts that in hindsight must’ve been God, like the “silly” suggestion I waste space on an umbrella–it rarely rains at this time of year in Idaho. It rained most of the time I was in Philadelphia. I was better off for the promptings I obeyed, and would’ve been better off still if I’d listened even better. For instance, I was told to pack toiletries in my carryon as well as my laptop, but it was heavy and I couldn’t fit my entire toiletry bag in, so I took only what I might realistically use on the road, my hair pick.
Oh, how I missed that toiletry bag. Thankfully, I was meeting a friend from Facebook, Deanna Fuggett , whose flight came in at the same time in a coincidence of God showing off that he can already manipulate stuff scheduled by computers as easily as Sander does in my Web Surfer Series. Deanna had another friend with a car who agreed to pick up both of us, getting us out of having to figure out the rail system in Philadelphia. Now, it was 4 AM in the time zone we’d come from, and she also helped my sleepy brain figure out what to do when my flight’s baggage carousel was empty and everyone had left. I truly needed someone with me while dealing with an uncaring lost baggage office on insufficient sleep–I don’t handle sleep deprivation well at all, and God ensured she was there then, and at several other times during the conference where I needed someone. She also helped me whip together a replacement costume for the costume party with two loaner items and connected me to Pam Halter, who had the courtesy bags of toiletries for those of us with lost luggage and for folks who’d forgotten something.
Deanna wasn’t the only helper God positioned perfectly during the business conference I spent living out of a backpack with slightly less than the bare essentials in it due to my, er, imperfect obedience. Dawn Ford, who works for Splickety, heard about my situation (since I was lamenting it to anyone who would listen) and loaned me appropriate clothes to wear to my pitching sessions with editors and reassured me if I explained about the lost luggage they’d be understanding of my lack of materials.
In fact, I learned to be grateful for what I did have–this short list included my business cards, my memorized one-sentence summary of Daughter of Eve (Verity’s trapped on a matriarchal Earth where she’ll be fed to the dragons–unless she becomes the prophesied royal bride) and three copies of four author/reviewer blurbs I’d collected years ago that I’d slipped into my carryon vital documents folder by accident. They turned out to be just enough, along with my knowledge of the series and my improvisation skills from my days as a stage actress in high school and middle school.
Pretty much the theme the whole long weekend was God moving through his people to provide just enough to cover fundamental needs, with a little work from me involved, and God moving just in time. Despite an airport that plain didn’t care, my bag was eventually identified and sent out for delivery and showed up at eleven o’clock the night before I had to get up insanely early to be at the airport by 4 AM for a 6 AM flight home. After I’d returned my loaned clothes and couldn’t borrow anything else. After I’d given up on getting through to the airport. After my husband had taken over that for me and given up, too, the call I’d been waiting for came, right as I was preparing to go shower, staring at my insufficient things, trying to figure out what to wear to bed, the call came. And God met my immediate need that night out of my own missing luggage.
To crown it all, I should’ve ended up alone in a triple—instead God directed a praying housing coordinator to put me in a quad’s empty room, and I ended up across the hall from a roommate with a car who shared my habit of going to bed “early” and while chatting my most concerning plight came up–having to navigate downtown Philadelphia partially on foot, in the dead of night, to get back to the airport, and she so didn’t want me to be in such a dangerous position that she got up in the middle of the night to drive me to the airport herself. Only God could’ve set that up.
All of it came together with my dad texting me almost as much as my husband to check if I were okay and had gotten things sorted out—and Dad waited until the day after I’d gotten home safely with all my baggage in check to ask how I’d feel about his birthday present to me this year being him paying my way out to Ohio for a family vacation at the cabins. Just me, he can’t afford both of us, either, and Adam can’t get the time out.
While a plane trip doesn’t sound fun right now, I said yes pretty much at once. God took care of me this time. He’ll be with me next time, too. We’ll see what the Lord wants to do on that family vacation Dad always promised Mom that we’d do again, a promise he’s paying quite a bit to belatedly keep.
Finally, I’ve learned I need far less than I had thought I did. And, while there are people in this world who plain don’t care, it’s not true that we can only count on family as mine has thought for generations. God does have many people that he can move through. I pray that I will more often be someone attentive to God’s voice, willing, available, and obedient myself.
Andrea J. Graham studied creative writing and religion at Ashland University. She’s the creator of the Web Surfer universe, which encompasses several novels and an anthology. She’s married to author Adam Graham and edits his novels, including Tales of the Dim Knight and Slime Incorporated. Their short story “Chosen of God” was featured in Light at the Edge of Darkness with her own short story, “Frozen Generation.” Andrea and Adam live with their cat, Joybell, in Boise, Idaho. Visit her online at: christsglory.com.